Have You Checked Your Drawers Lately?

No, not the ones in your pants silly…. The ones in your kitchen!  These may be the first indicators that you need new cabinets.  Even if your cabinets are fairly new (like you’ve maybe only lived with them for about five years when you bought your house new).  If you bought a spec house or one in a builder’s development, chances are they are not top-of-the-line and were only designed to hold up for about five or so years.  You think I’m kidding!  Just look at how they are constructed and the materials they are made of.  Look at the joinery. Chances are they are just stapled together.  Worse yet, they may be made of pressed or particle board which can crumble and chip and are easily damaged if exposed to moisture.  If you see dovetail joints (finger joints) and hardwood (or even plywood), then you have hit the drawer box lotto. (Speaking from experience here:  I once slammed one in an apartment I lived in after having an argument with my husband.  The drawer front went flying along with the front of the drawer box –in separate directions.  I don’t remember what the fight was about, but I’ll never forget trying to patch together the broken drawer!)

Cheap drawer-construction This is an example of an inexpensive drawer box that is stapled together.  The bottom appears to be particle board though the sides are plywood (or they may also be particle board covered with a wood-printed vinyl).  The drawer guides are cheap side-mounted guides that will not support the same weight or wear and tear as an under-mounted guide.

Another hallmark of cheap cabinet drawers are thin bottom panels.  You know what I mean –like the bottom drawer in that drawer base in your kitchen, the one you call the “junk drawer” that you over filled with “stuff” and the bottom broke out –spilling all that “stuff” below in the back where you can’t get it so easy.

drawerextend Note the dove-tailed joints of this well-constructed drawer box.  You can see that the box material is thicker and made of hardwood.  The drawer guides are under-mounted with levers that allow for easy removal of the drawer box.  They support more weight than the side mounted type.

These drawers are also “full extension” meaning the back of the drawers come almost out as far as the front of the cabinet frame giving you more accessibility to it than a standard drawer.  An added feature that may be added to this guide type is a pulley system that creates a ‘soft close’ mechanism that keeps fingers from getting pinched and forces you to find another way to express your temper.  You just can’t slam it!

drawerhead This photo shows a close up of how the drawer front is securely bolted to the drawer box.  Notice the thicker material.

An alternative to drawer guides are drawer boxes that have sides that are actually part of the guide system.  The most well-known manufacturer of this type of system is Blum  http://www.blum.com/us/en/index.php.  They make the Metabox which is basically a metal drawer box and the Tandembox that includes the soft-close feature they call “blumotion”.  These are usually standard on “frameless” or European-style cabinets, though they may be available with some traditional “face-framed cabinets” as well. Something to consider if you’re thinking of going ‘Euro’ design –the drawer boxes are bigger in the same space because of the lack of face frame. 

Metabox style




Don’t be fooled by the implication that the “Euro” style cabinets also force an ultramodern look.  They can look just as traditional as the face-frame type.  They used to also be more expensive.  That is a thing of the past.  Your costs and design aesthetic will result from the quality and features you choose.

Blum’s technology hasn’t stopped with the Tandembox.  Now there is Servo-Drive: http://www.blum.com/popup/slideshow/servo_drive/servo_general_us_en.php?up_site=us&up_lang=en&pmod=slm&pmod=slm


Drawers open automatically with just a light touch of the drawer front or a light pull of the handle. This amazing feature is based on an electrical drive that, when activated, opens the drawer for you.


Will adding drawer upgrades to your new kitchen cabinets have a tangible investment payoff when it comes time to sell your home?  You might be very surprised to find out how little these upgrades actually cost compared to other cabinet upgrades that don’t improve functionality or longevity.  You also don’t have to worry that they will go out of style like the door style or finish choices might.  Even if resale value isn’t what you’re going for, wouldn’t you enjoy knowing that they will stay hardworking and beautiful as long as your mortgage?  As our society grows older and we are striving to “age-in-place,” making drawer operation easier is a wise decision whether you are planning to stay in your home or sell it to someone else who would benefit from these choices.

Oh, and if you go for the soft-close option, The Dollar Tree has lots of really inexpensive dishes you can use for tossing the next time you feel the urge to slam something that just won’t! =-)

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